THURSDAY 27 FEBRUARY
A lot of rain during the morning which eventually cleared and gave way to a pleasant afternoon....
The female BULLFINCH was again on the birdtable feeding on white sunflower hearts, whilst the highlight at LATIMER PLACE was a local pair of COMMON RAVEN flying back and forth with nesting material, seemingly coming down to the west of the house. The gardens also held Common Magpie, Common Starling, Common Blackbird, Great Tit, Wren, 2 Robins and a singing Mistle Thrush, with 3 Carrion Crows on the field.
Female Bullfinch on one of the Chaffinch House birdtables
and a local pair of COMMON RAVENS getting down to nest-building
LATIMER GREAT WATER held 4 Mute Swans, 8 Mallard, 27 Tufted Duck, 6 Moorhen, 12 Coot and a Grey Heron, with Stock Dove, 12 Jackdaw and Common Blackbird nearby, whilst the Chess from NEPTUNES FALLS TO LATIMER BRIDGE added a Little Grebe, 5 Mute Swans (two separate pairs and a single), 14 Atlantic Canada Geese, 4 Mallard, 6 Tufted Duck, 4 Coot and 4 Moorhen, as well as Nuthatch, 18 Jackdaw, 2 Wren, 3 Blue Tit, Robin, 2 Great Tit, Carrion Crow and a pair of Long-tailed Tits.
One of the Mute Swan pairs...
.......and the loner
The Neptunes Falls
Walking east from LATIMER BRIDGE quickly yielded a single Little Egret by the river, 5 soaring Common Buzzards, 8 Jackdaw, 5 Mallard and a Wren, whilst at CHURCH COVERT (still completely under water and flooding over), a singing Goldcrest in the ivy, Common Blackbird, a Little Grebe, Blue Tit, Grey Heron and another Wren. The 6 COMMON TEAL were still by the river and the LITTLE OWL was just about visible in the pollarded Willow tree.
Little Egret not far from the bridge
The water flooding over in Church Covert
Still 6 Common Teal on the river
The Little Owl was there but pretty difficult to see
At CHENIES BOTTOM, the usual pair of Mute Swan was present as well as a recently-arrived pair of Coot at the bridge - also Little Egret and 2 Moorhens in MILL FARM MEADOWS. A pair of Red Kite and Carrion Crow were investigating the Larches of WALLACE'S WOOD PLANTATION with 37 Jackdaws close by.
The view from the bridge...
The Chess running through the gardens
The Chenies Bridge resident pair of Mute Swans
and a pair of Coots freshly arrived
Red Kites taking up territory
I did a thorough search of BALDWIN'S WOOD but little of note other than Jay, 3 Robin, Wren, 2 Coal Tit (singing males), Woodpigeon, 2 Long-tailed Tit (pair), Blue Tit, 5 Common Buzzard, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 5 Great Tit, Common Blackbird, 8 Redwing (in a cacophony of song), 6 Goldcrest (party of 5 and a singing male), Chaffinch and Common Treecreeper.
In FLAUNDEN BOTTOM, a large corvid flock in the fields consisted of 9 Carrion Crow, 66 Rook and 79 Jackdaw, whilst LATIMER VILLAGE held 4 Robin, 2 Common Magpie, Pied Wagtail, Blue Tit, Common Blackbird, 3 Jackdaw, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and 10 Fan-tailed Doves in Holly Tree Cottage grounds. At neighbouring PARKFIELD LATIMER, up to 33 Rook nests were now occupied.
The view across Flaunden Bottom...
...and that across Latimer Village
and the 10 Fan-tailed Doves resident in Latimer
The Rookery Pines in Parkfield Latimer
Leaving the Chess Valley for pastures new up north of the county, I started off at LINFORD NATURE RESERVE. Although I could not locate the Smew in a short search from Near Hide, I did count 13 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Little Egret, 58 Wigeon, 18 Teal, 7 Shoveler, 2 Lapwing, 27 Coot, Moorhen and 8 Black-headed Gulls, while in the scrub, 2 Common Magpie, Green Woodpecker, 3 Song Thrush, 5 Fieldfare, 5 Robin, 2 Dunnock, Wren and Common Treecreeper were noted. At the Woodland Hide, both single Marsh and WILLOW TITS were visiting the suet, as well as up to 8 Great Tits and 6 Blue Tits. A WATER RAIL was squealing nearby from an area of water.
A few Blue Tits
plenty of Great Tits...
....and this Marsh Tit visiting the birdtable
At LATHBURY VILLAGE, a nice selection of passerines, with 4 Collared Dove, 4 Common Starling, 18 House Sparrows (healthy population), Common Buzzard, 2 Mistle Thrush, 12 Redwing, 6 Fieldfare, Coal Tit and Song Thrush recorded, as well as several Rooks gathering acorns previously buried last autumn.
Collared Doves pairing up
some beautiful Redwings
and Rooks gathering acorns
Just up the road from there, roadside fields just south of STOKE GOLDINGTON VILLAGE produced 96 Woodpigeon and 150 Fieldfare, whilst in DAG LANE, 15 TREE SPARROWS were in the usual garden, along with Collared Dove, 25 Blue Tits, male House Sparrow, Long-tailed Tit (on the feeders), 4 Great Tit, Chaffinch, Common Blackbird, Dunnock and Robin.
The famous cottage at the top end of Dag Lane
Tree Sparrows can be very elusive and shy chirpies...
An area of paddocks harbouring horses, sheep and other livestock at CROW TREE LODGE/EAKLEY MANOR COTTAGE (SP 8251) yielded Common Blackbird, Dunnock, Robin,Carrion Crow, Blue Tit, Woodpigeon, Chaffinch and 4 Greenfinch.
TYRINGHAM BRIDGE had 27 Greylag Geese, 29 Canada Geese, 7 Mute Swan, 6 Mallard, 6 Moorhen, 3 Cormorant, 2 Common Blackbird and 2 Robin.
The view from Tyringham Bridge
and Sinensis Cormorants, this adult in fine fettle
Moving back south, I stopped off at STEWARTBY LAKE (BEDS), where the long-staying juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER was still present, along with 33 Great Crested Grebes, 6 Tufted Duck and a gull roost containing 2,936 Black-headed, 221 Common, 2 summer-plumaged adult MEDITERRANEAN, 2 Argenteus Herring and just 24 Lesser Black-backed. Most disconcerting though was the sight of a wind generator on the horizon - located on a nature reserve!
Great Northern Diver viewable distantly
and this monstrosity blotting the skyline